Town of Halifax, Vermont
July 5, 2016


Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Mitchell Green, and Bradley Rafus were present, as were Lieutenant Tim Oliver (Vermont State Police), Frank Maltese, Ray Combs, Stephan Chait, Patty Dow, and Robbin Gabriel

Changes and/or Additions to Agenda

Lewis Sumner added minutes approval for the June 21st public hearing. Brad Rafus has an update on the Branch Road bridge at Hubbard Hill, and Mitch Green asked for comment on surveyor research.

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

Sumner made a motion to approve the 6/21/16 Selectboard public hearing minutes with one correction. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Sumner made a motion to approve the 6/21/16 regular meeting minutes as written. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Green made a motion to approve the 6/23/16 special meeting minutes as written. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Green made a motion to approve the 6/30/16 special meeting minutes with one correction. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Rafus, who was absent, abstaining.

New Business

State Police Contract—Lieutenant Tim Oliver
Lieutenant Tim Oliver, Vermont State Police, told the meeting he has run the Rockingham barracks for the last four years. Barracks consolidation in Westminster is set for the third week in July, with Brattleboro moving in on July 18th and Rockingham on July 20th. Lieutenant Paul Favreau has moved on from the Brattleboro barracks, and Oliver will be in charge of the consolidated unit. He has been with the Vermont State Police about 26 years as a detective and canine handler, and currently runs the canine program for the entire state. The town will only see one change as a result of the consolidation; some Rockingham troopers may work in the Halifax area. Oliver submitted a new six-month contract to the Selectboard for signature. There are no changes in the contract, VSP has simply moved from a yearly contract to one of six month’s duration. Oliver encouraged people to call with questions and concerns. Frank Maltese asked whether troopers could distribute business cards as a way of introducing themselves to the population and Oliver said yes; officers will have cards with the new Westminster phone number. He told Ray Combs that the new station is at I-91 Exit 5 but troopers all have computers in their cars, have their cars at their homes, and will be in their assigned patrol areas while on duty.

Town Employee Wage Increases
At their June 30th special meeting, the Board had some preliminary discussion of wage increases that would give highway crew members an approximate 3% increase overall, while equalizing pay rates for the three newest employees. All three are able to perform the full range of duties required, and there is not much variance in length of time on the job; the most recent employee has been on the payroll for almost 10 years. Brad Rafus recused himself from pay rate decisions. Patty Dow explained the steps necessary for employees to make changes in their retirement plan, which is administered by the Vermont Municipal Retirement Group. Selectboard approval is submitted, employees are queried individually on their choice, and changes then take effect in the following fiscal year. The Board discussed the merits and effects of percentage versus actual dollar amount increases. Sumner made a motion to raise hourly rates for Travis Briggs, Ben Barnett, and Mike Fournier to $19.00, with a 3% increase for Brad Rafus and Keith Stone, effective July 3rd, 2016. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Rafus abstaining.

Sign Special Election Warning
Sumner made a motion to sign the warning for the Town’s August 9, 2016 special election vote on zoning repeal. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. Sumner read the warning for the record, as follows: “The inhabitants of the Town of Halifax, Vermont, who are legal voters in the Town are hereby notified and warned to meet at the Halifax Elementary School in the multipurpose room in West Halifax, Vermont, on Tuesday, August 9, 2016 between the hours of 10:00 A.M. and 7:00 P.M. to vote on the following article: To see if the Town will vote by Australian ballot to repeal zoning regulations in the Town of Halifax, Vermont.”

Approve August 9 Ballot
Stephan Chait asked whether wording on the warning is the same as agreed-upon at a previous meeting. Green said the warned article was unchanged, but the ballot wording is a little different. The ballot reads “Shall the voters of the Town of Halifax vote to repeal zoning regulations in the Town of Halifax.” Two checkboxes follow. The first reads “If in favor of repealing the zoning regulations make a cross in this square.” The second reads “If opposed to repealing the zoning regulations make a cross in this square.” I think that makes the choice clear, added Green. Sumner made a motion to approve the wording of the August 9, 2016 ballot for the vote on zoning regulation repeal. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. Combs asked whether people understood a vote to repeal would eliminate all the Town’s zoning regulations. Maybe we should vote just to repeal the recent zoning changes, he said. Green explained the vote must be on the petition as presented. He suggested the Town might consider reinstating a simpler zoning code if the voters repealed the current bylaws.

Set Informational Meeting Date
Green made a motion to set August 4, 2016, 7:00 p.m., in the Halifax School multipurpose room, as the date for a Selectboard Informational Meeting on zoning repeal prior to the town vote on August 9th. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The Board told Chait this meeting will be an informal discussion similar to those held prior to yearly town meetings. It will be run either by the Selectboard or the Town Moderator. Gabriel will find out whether Vicki Hardgrove is available.

Branch Road Bridge at Hubbard Hill
Work on the bridge has been completed. I-beams have been greased for ten-foot lengths on each side. Rafus is checking with the State engineer to find out whether full-length greasing is required. Renaud will follow state recommendations either way.

Hearing of Visitors

Sumner advised the Board would hear other business before entering executive session to discuss a legal matter.

Frank Maltese said he would like to purchase four used I-beams from the Town. He calculated that at 19 pounds per foot, their value is approximately $17.50 each based on current steel prices. Those came out of Weir Road bridge, said Rafus. We have already used what we need to build our screen, and they are too small to be used in any other bridge. Green recommended selling the beams to Maltese for $15.00 each. Sumner made a motion to sell four stringers to Frank Maltese for $15.00 apiece. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Ray Combs asked whether reflectors were needed on the new Branch Road bridge rails. There are reflectors in place, replied Rafus; they are bolted into the center of the rail. The angle of that bridge is explained by the fact that in the past, bridges were always built across the shortest distance, to reduce cost. Sumner said that a loan to rebuild the bridge after the 1927 flood had not been repaid when flooding occurred in 1936 and 1938, so the town couldn’t borrow more money. The Halifax Center church loaned the town funds to rebuild, and that loan wasn’t repaid until the late 1960s.

Stephan Chait asked about a boundary line survey for the town garage property. Gabriel has spoken with surveyor Merrill Mundell, who requested some deed research prior to meeting at the garage with the Board to discuss a cost estimate.

Combs asked for an update on the Green River Road paving problem. Sumner said Joe Tamburrino had located paperwork related to Lane’s paving agreement with the town in 2012. Lane Paving has been purchased by a company in Italy. Green remarked that taking legal action against Lane would be a gamble; the town might spend thousands of dollars in legal fees and get nothing in return. They (Lane) don’t seem interested in paving for the towns anymore, said Rafus. Combs also noticed one of the new, larger road signs reads “Hatch Road” rather than “Hatch School Road.”

Old Business


Other Business


Executive Session
Sumner made a motion to enter executive session to discuss a legal matter, with Gabriel included by invitation. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The Board entered executive session at 8:02 p.m., and exited at 8:38 p.m., with no decisions made.

Sign Orders to the Treasurer

The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.


Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed and appropriately filed or signed, including thank-you letters to Brian McNeice and Edee Edwards for their service on Planning Commission/ZBA and Broadband Committee, respectively. Salt prices that are the same as last year, at $85.13 per ton.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:57 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robbin Gabriel
Selectboard Secretary